How to Settle an Argument
Arguments are common in all types of relationships, but sometimes they can be hard to settle. Before you engage with someone in an argument, it is important to get yourself into the right mindset. You can also increase your chances of reaching a solution by improving your communication skills. If the argument still doesn’t seem to be reaching a conclusion, then you can also seek help from a third party.
Adopting the Right Mindset
Remain calm.When we experience conflict, our stress hormones can impair our judgment and make it easy to escalate an argument quickly. However, we can use mindfulness and breathing to help us remain calm during an argument. Remaining calm will also allow the other person to hear what we are saying in a way that acting angry won't.
- Take a few deep breaths. Breathing is a natural way to calm yourself when you're agitated. It will slow the heart rate, and calm your body down so that you can approach the situation with a clear head.
- Go for a brisk walk around the block. Taking a quick walk may also help you to gather your thoughts and calm down. If possible, excuse yourself and walk around the block a few times.
- Visualize a serene place. If you can take a few minutes to yourself, try closing your eyes and imagining a calm place, such as a beach or a lush forest. Imagine the sights, sounds, smells, and physical sensations to the place to help yourself relax.
Focus on what you can support with evidence.When in an argument, it's easy to catastrophize our own position, and minimize the other person's. Not only does this keep us from getting to the issue at hand, it increases negative emotions during an argument. It can also help us see the other person's points, and learn to give way on issues that aren't as important as our emotions have led us to believe.
- Say to yourself, "What evidence do I have that Susan wants to take over the nursery project?" Then say to yourself, "What evidence do I have that Susan wants me to be a part of this process?" By doing this, you are taking a second to analyze the situation and calming yourself before speaking. Our initial thoughts and feelings are often worse than what is really true.
Try to keep the other person’s interests at heart.Not only does this help you keep perspective, it is also a powerful rhetorical strategy. If someone believes you have their best interests in mind, they are more likely to listen to you. It will also allow you to come up with a solution that works best for everyone, not just you.
Improving Your Communication Skills
Listen actively to the other person.Active listening is an essential part of settling an argument. Listening with your full undivided attention lets the other person know that you care. Some things you can do to show that you are listening include:
- Putting away all distractions, such as cell phones, laptops, and tablets.
- Facing the person and making eye contact.
- Summarizing or restating what the other person has to say to see if you have it right. For example, you can say, “So you’re saying that slamming the door didn’t mean you were angry?”
- Asking questions if something is unclear. For example, you might say something like, “I’m sorry. I don’t understand what you meant when you said that I should have known you were upset.”
Use “I” statements to reduce defensiveness.Starting sentences with “you” can cause the other person to feel attacked and this may put him or her on the defensive. Instead, try to start all of your statements with “I” to keep the focus on your perspective and avoid making accusations.
- For example, you might say something like, “I really like the idea of using pastel colors in the baby’s room,” rather than saying, “Your color choices for the baby’s room are all too bright!”
Take responsibility for your role in the conflict.While you may feel like the other person is in the wrong, it is often necessary to admit any part you played to settle the argument. Sometimes this isn’t a direct action. Your responsibility in the matter might be as simple as forgetting to express a need or want or a miscommunication.
- For example, if your spouse forgot to pay a bill, consider whether you played a role in that as well. Do you usually pay the bill? Do you usually remind your spouse to pay it? Is paying the bill late really that big of a deal?
- To acknowledge your role in a conflict, you might say something like, “I know that I usually remind you to pay this bill and I didn’t this month. I guess we both have some responsibility in this situation.”
Be willing to relinquish blame.Blame tends to exacerbate conflict. While you may well be "right" about some parts of the argument, it doesn't help the relationship to fixate on blame. Instead, try to use compassion, and remember your role in the conflict.
- For example, if you are upset with your spouse for forgetting to pay a bill, then you might consider whether your spouse would get as angry at you in the same situation. How would that make you feel? How would you want to be treated instead?
Getting Help to Settle Your Argument
Find a mediator.Having a party that isn't involved in the argument to help mediate can give perspective to all people involved and help to resolve the conflict. A mediator can help frame things in a way to make listening easier, especially when there's a lot at stake or there are high emotions on both sides.
- The type of mediator you use will depend on the situation. For example, you might consider enlisting the help of an objective friend, if the argument is between you and another friend. You might enlist the help of your human resources manager if the argument is between you and a coworker. Or, you might see a marriage counselor if the argument is between you and your spouse.
Find credible sources on the internet.If you are in a situation where you are simply arguing over a fact, then take a moment to settle the matter by simply looking it up online. This is a great way to solve a simple factual argument, such as Justin Bieber’s birthday, or the distance between the Earth and the Sun. There aren’t going to be a lot of variant answers for these kinds of questions unless for some reason the answer is not clear.
- However, for some facts, it is important to use credible websites, meaning sites that have some level of credibility based on expertise. For instance, the Audubon Society website is more likely to have good information on the habitat and diet of the house wren than a personal blog about birdwatching.
- Some locations that are almost always credible include university websites (ones that end with .edu) and government websites (ones that end with .gov). Other credible sources with a wide variety of information include Google Scholar,Pew Research Center,and a number of mainstream news sources.With news sources, however, it is important to be aware if they are real (there are a lot of fake news sites out there),and to be aware of any biases they might have.
- The more controversial the fact, the more necessary to consult credible sources.
- Snopes.com can be a great source for fact-checking as that is the mission of the site. If you find a source you're not sure is credible, you can check there to see if Snopes has anything about it.
Ask an expert.Sometimes, only an expert can provide the answer, whether it is a doctor, a lawyer, or some other kind of specialist. Depending on what you are asking, this might actually cost money or require visiting the expert in person. However, many experts such as astrophysicists and molecular biologists now participate in social media sites such as Twitter. It may be possible to ask them directly via a tweet.Getting an answer from Neil deGrasse Tyson should solve any astrophysical factual argument you have!
Know when to let go.Sometimes you have to agree to disagree if you want to keep a relationship. That may change the relationship dynamic depending on what you're arguing about. However, if you can truly let it go, you can maintain a healthy relationship with your friend or acquaintance. After all, it isn't healthy to have only friends who agree with you on everything.
- Try telling yourself something like, "This disagreement is not worth losing a friend over. I want to move past this disagreement and continue our friendship."
- Consider what might be stopping you from letting go of the issue. For example, if it is a political disagreement, then your friend's opinions might be threatening part of your identity. Or, if it is something your friend said or did that hurt you, then it might be affecting your self-esteem. Becoming more aware of why the problem is hard for you to overcome may help you by giving you a chance to examine yourself more closely.
QuestionHow do I get rid of someone I hate?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerEither have a direct (but calm and polite) discussion with them about how you need some space, or just slowly fade out of their life. Stop taking their calls, when you see them in public, make an excuse to leave, etc. If someone is really bothering you, it's usually best to be direct, and even get an authority figure involved if necessary.Thanks!
- Try to remember that family and friends are really precious, and losing them over a small fight could be a big mistake.
- Take a deep breath, this may give you time to think before you speak.
- Don't get in an argument to show off for someone.
- Don't let your anger get the best of you.
- If you feel your anger escalating out of control, excuse yourself, leave immediately, and possibly talk to the other person later.
Video: How to Defuse an Argument
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